The Zoologist/4th series, vol 3 (1899)/Issue 694/Editorial Gleanings

Editorial Gleanings  (1899) 
editor W.L. Distant

Published in The Zoologist, 4th series, vol 3, issue 694 (April, 1899), p. 191–192


We have received the Annual Report and Transactions of the "North Staffordshire Field Club" for 1897–98. In Sectional Reports, and under Zoology, Mr. Masefield reports as follows:—"It is frequently said by our landowners who are Fox-hunters that Badgers kill or drive away Foxes. Now the Badger still survives in our county, as is shown by the frequent reports I receive from different localities of Badgers having been observed, dug out, or shot, and therefore I am glad to be able to state, on the authority of Mr. Heinman, of Porlock, who has had exceptional opportunity of studying the ways of Badgers, that equally in Devonshire, Somersetshire, and Northamptonshire he 'has constantly found full-grown Foxes and Badgers dwelling together in unity.' This statement will, I trust, dispel the fears of Fox-hunters for ever, and should cause them to extend 'neutrality,' at all events, to our local Badgers in future."

We are all cognisant that light attracts fishes as well as many other animals. We have been much interested in the accounts of the new French naval destroyer 'Gustave Zédé.' Anything more unlikely to produce a zoological observation than this proposed navy annihilator is difficult to imagine. Still, the unexpected always happens. We learn that the destructive powers of this new terror are limited, not alone by naval science, but by natural causes, and by fish. "As for the telescopic mirror arrangement which was to enable her to direct her course from under water, it failed, not for one but for several reasons; while her 'electric eye,' or searchlight, so far from enabling her to see anything ahead of her through the water, rather rendered the sea ahead more opaque, as it attracted shoals of fish, which hovered round the brilliant disc, like moths round a candle."—Westminster Gazette.

At a meeting of the Zoological Society of London, held on Feb. 7th, Mr. G.E.H. Barrett-Hamilton read a paper on the Mice of St. Kilda, of which he recognized two species—Mus hirtensis, sp. nov., a representative of M. sylvaticus, and M. muralis, sp. nov., representing M. musculus. Both of these species showed good distinctive characters from their well-known prototypes.

At at similar meeting, on March 7th, Mr. W. E. de Winton exhibited and made remarks upon the tail of a Common Fox (Canis vulpes), showing the gland on the upper surface covered with straight coarse hair, the existence of which appeared to be little known.

The Annual Meeting of the Society for the Protection of Birds was held on Feb. 28th, Sir Edward Grey, M.P., in the chair. The Report, which was presented by Mr. Sharpe, chairman of the executive committee, stated that the total number of members is now over 20,000, and the branches number 152. The Society still continued its campaign against the wearing of Ospreys, but without apparently much effect, as in 1898 nearly 35,000 Birds of Paradise and 2200 packages of Osprey plumes were sold in six days at auction. With regard to Ospreys worn by the officers of certain regiments, a promise had been given by Mr. Brodrick that an effort will be made to find a substitute. Sir Edward Grey, in moving the adoption of the Report, said the Society had done much to awaken public opinion to the need of checking the wanton destruction of bird-life. But a wholesale destruction of foreign birds in the breeding season still went on, with a view to supplying ornaments for hats, which would necessarily lead to the extinction of certain species. People did not realize this. Considerable power had been given to county councils to protect bird-life, and they had responded very well, and in most cases had passed very satisfactory bye-laws. But the real difficulty was the enforcement of these rules.

We have received from the "Humanitarian League" a tractate on "The Cost of a Seal-skin Cloak," by Joseph Collinson. He who reads may literally sup on horrors as the callous destruction of these animals is detailed. Allowing, however, for all exuberant animal sympathy, and offending no "philistine" with the introduction of a new "fad," we must agree with much that is here written. The writer pithily remarks:—"It is a remarkable fact that during the whole of the time that the Anglo-American controversy raged over the Behring Straits Seal question, not one word should have been said on behalf of the Seals themselves. The flood of talk swept on; there was a great deal said about 'rights'—every right, indeed, was abundantly discussed except the right of the Seals, if not to live their lives in their own way, at least to humane treatment when the time comes round to kill them. The horrible tortures inflicted on these helpless animals to provide mankind with Seal-skin were treated as if they were entirely immaterial."